GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

Moral movie mavens

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Going overtime on our “week” of religious film review sites, we visit a guardian of morality tonight. Plugged In Online, created by religious right leader James Dobson, picks out every “damn” and flash of flesh in movies.

But not always skillfully. In his review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Paul Asay says the soldiers “boast more boom sticks than the 1927 Yankees.” In reviewing Drag Me to Hell, he says “you CB031428know where” three times. And in his review of Star Trek, he says James T. Kirk is a “ne’er-do-well” with a “penchant for derring-do,” and the starship Enterprise is the “snazziest set of space wheels.” Memo to Dobson: Hire copy editors who grew up after the 1940s.

Still, Asay has his moments. He praises Star Trek’s sense of fun and optimism. He also notes: “While some films use CGI to set up a story, Transformers reverses the process: It uses a halfhearted story as an excuse to string together some cool special effects.”

A better writer is Lindy Keffer. Her takedown of The Hangover is crisp and efficient, except for occasional clunky words like “debauchery.”

Each review labels spiritual, sexual, violent and drug/alcohol content, in discrete segments. Sometimes it gets picky — will you really get upset at a woman in a flannel shirt, showing her legs? — but it’s an improvement over the past, when many ministers simply condemned most movies. Now you can evaluate for yourself, before you buy a ticket.

And if you have small kids, be honest: Wouldn’t you like an idea of what’s in that film they’ve been hounding you to take them to?

Tomorrow night, we’ll look at a somewhat more sophisticated site, though just as moralistic.

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Written by Jim Davis

July 15, 2009 at 3:22 am

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